|Alpana decoration for Karttik/Damodar Month|
The other day a reader emailed me about my last post regarding a woman's disappointment in old age. He asked, "Is there anything she could have done differently or is it a matter of perspective?" The answer is yes and no. There's a saying that "Prevention is better than the cure." There isn't anything she could have done differently but she could have thought differently. The spiritual masters advise us to uphold our duties but with a sense of detachment. Her distress and lamentation was the result of expectations and attachment to fruitive work. If she had endeavored without any expectations to be rewarded or attachment to the final results, she would not have anything to lament. This is real self-less service and the path of spiritual advancement. In essence, the scriptures are advising us to donate our time and energy voluntarily and to view our actions in that light. When you give in charity, first off, you give to one who is deserving, you give without expecting a reward or credit and you relinquish emotional attachments. Essentially grhasthas, both male and female, are being guided in an ideal consciousness: to view your life as an opportunity to selflessly serve others, the real goal being attachment to the Supreme Lord and knowledge of the Absolute Truth.
Srila Prabhupada mentions the qualities of a liberated person and the principles he lives by within householder life:
So if you want to find out a mahatma within the society, not as a renounced sannyasi, then these are the symptoms. There are other symptoms. Nunam pramattah kurute vikarma [SB 5.5.4], that we shall describe later on. These are the general symptoms of a mahatma grhastha. He is not interested in this bodily concept of life, or maintaining very opulently his family members, or talking very seriously with persons who are simply materially interested, dehambhara, just to maintain this body. Of course we require to maintain this body. He is not neglectful. There is no question of negligence. He takes care of his children, of his wife, everything, but without any attachment. That is recommended by the Gosvamis. That, anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah. You give education to your children, that is required. You maintain your wife, that is also required, no negligence, but no attachment at the same time. No attachment, that I shall sacrifice everything for my wife, and children, and home. That is not a mahatma's business, because he knows that he cannot improve the destiny. Everybody has got his body with certain destiny already settled up. That you cannot change. Otherwise everyone is trying to become very rich, very important, there is no scarcity of endeavor, but not that everyone is becoming like that. That is called destiny.